Memphis Medical Quarterly Goes Inside West Cancer Center’s Gynecologic Oncology Division
For more than twenty years, West Cancer Center’s Gynecologic Oncology Division has provided rapid access to the most comprehensive treatment for women across the Mid-South. Beginning with the hiring of Linda Smiley, MD, FACOG in 1995, West Cancer Center integrated a more refined and targeted approach to patient care, delivering customized – and multidisciplinary – treatment plans for women facing a gynecologic cancer diagnosis. Since then, the number of new gynecologic cancer diagnoses has grown to comprise one of the highest volumes for all cancer types treated at West Cancer Center. In 2016 alone, the Division saw more than 4,000 patients – including almost 800 new patients in the same timeframe.
To accommodate this growing patient population, West now boasts the region’s largest team of multidisciplinary experts in the field. Todd Tillmanns, MD, FACOG, Mark Reed, MD, FACOG, Adam C. ElNaggar, MD, and Dr. Smiley form the Gynecologic Oncology Division – all playing the unique, dual role of oncologist and surgeon.
“From evaluation to diagnosis, through surgery and treatment planning, this team cares for the entire patient – throughout their spectrum of care” said Dr. Tillmanns, Division Head and Program Director of the Gynecologic Oncology Division at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. “This highly personalized and unique patient experience is coupled with unparalleled access to the most advanced technology and innovative resources available – ensuring each patient receives the care they need. From radical debunking surgeries to the management of chemotherapy, our physicians are with our patients – every step of the way.”
Comprehensive Care – on your home front
In addition to the flagship location in Memphis, Tenn., the Division provides points of access to comprehensive services throughout the Mid-South. From satellite locations in West Tennessee and Eastern Arkansas, to two dedicated sites in North Mississippi, these experts provide multiple points of access to care for women across the region. This ensures not only the convenience of proximity, but also the benefit of more rapid access and appointment times across multiple sites.
“As the patient’s partner in their health care journey, we meet the patient – on their home front – to guide them comprehensively and efficiently through the stages of diagnosis, treatment planning and, ultimately, survivorship,” said Dr. Smiley. “This regional scope is foundational to our team, and essential to the patient experience. At the end of the day, that is what we are working to perfect.”
Robotic-assisted surgery has quickly become one of the fastest growing technologic advances in the treatment of gynecologic cancers. Today, this commitment to innovative technology and resources continues as the team utilizes the most advanced robotic and minimally invasive systems for surgical intervention. The net result is ultimate benefit to the patients – ensuring decreased patient discomfort, quicker recovery and superior surgical outcomes.
“In regards to cancer care, we were doing minimally invasive surgery here at West before anyone else in the city,” said Dr. Tillmanns. “That’s typically a robotic approach; however, there are other minimally invasive approaches that we are doing here as well that are very useful. We put our patients first, and that means finding the most successful methods that interrupt their lives as little as possible.”
The Therapies of Tomorrow, Today
West Cancer Center features the largest portfolio of clinical trial opportunities in the Mid-South. This, coupled with a commitment to targeted therapy empowered by a comprehensive Genetics Program, ensures patients benefit from the latest treatment opportunities and newest combination modalities.
Dr. ElNaggar, the newest Gynecologic Oncologist to join West Cancer Center, believes this is essential to not only the patient, but also to elevating access to innovative care throughout the region. “At West Cancer Center, we are shaping the future of cancer care with an innovative, patient-centered approach to cancer treatment,” said Dr. ElNaggar. “For the Division, this includes providing patients access to the therapies of tomorrow – today – through our robust Clinical Research Program. This is reflective of West’s commitment to providing our patients with every tool, every resource available at our disposal to defeat this disease. ”
Patient and Caregiver Support
In addition to regional access and innovative treatment opportunities, the Gynecologic Oncology Division reflects a commitment to the holistic patient experience – a component that has been a building block of West Cancer Center since the doors opened almost four decades ago. Realizing that the patient experience extends far beyond the physician and treatment visits, the WINGS Supportive Care Division picks up where the visit leaves off – providing patients access to the comprehensive, supportive services necessary for their cancer journey.
“The cancer journey impacts not only the patient, but the entire network of family, friends and loved ones that surround them,” said Dr. Reed. “As their physician, we also become part of their network. And we realize that these additional supportive services are absolutely essential to the cancer journey.”
From nutrition to rehabilitation, to psychological services and spiritual counseling, these services are available at no additional cost to the patient. The WINGS Supportive Care Division also houses the Genetic Counseling Program – a resource critical to the treatment planning process.
“In partnership with the patient’s Gynecologic Oncologist, Genetic Counselors provide patients access to education and resources to better understand how genetics may play a role in developing cancer,” said Dr. Reed. “And, when evaluation and care planning deems necessary, they can also provide genetic testing services to determine how this information can empower both preventative health as well as the cancer treatment process.”
Shaping the Future of Gynecologic Oncology
In addition to excellence in comprehensive care, the Gynecologic Oncology Division is committed to providing access to education and training opportunities for specialists in the field.
According to Dr. Tillmanns, integral to this commitment is the Division’s Fellowship Program. Featuring a dual focus on both clinical excellence as well as laboratory research, the Fellowship provides future experts with the necessary surgical experience, scientific knowledge and laboratory focus to build a foundation for a career in this field. The highly competitive program also distinguishes West Cancer Center – and the Division – as not only the region’s premier cancer care provider, but also as the educational epicenter for gynecologic experts in the Mid-South.
And while the Gynecologic Oncology Division represents a comprehensive web of multidisciplinary services, education, programs and expertise, their mission is singular – and very clear: to provide each woman with the care they need for their unique wellness journey.
“We are very proud of the program that we’ve built here at West – one that is equal to some of the largest and most robust Gynecologic Programs in the country,” said Dr. Tillmanns. “But, at the end of the day, what truly makes us unique – what truly defines these expert physicians – is their commitment to each and every single patient that trusts us as their partner in their cancer journey. That is our focus. That is what gets us out of bed every day. We are with these patients, every step of the way.”